Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?
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  1. #1
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    Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?

    Hi all,

    I'm looking at getting started in watch repair as a hobby. I've bought most of the tools, and I've ordered two lubricants in small quantities: Etsyntha 3-5 (140 centistokes) as a light oil, and Moebius D-5 as a heavy oil. I know that what's left is grease. Ideally, since I'm doing this more-or-less on the cheap, I'd like a way to do this that isn't too expensive.

    I've seen the following greases:
    • Anchor watch grease. No idea if this is any good, and can't find a datasheet or any info.
    • KT-22. OK for keyless works -- would this work for the mainspring?
    • Molykote DX. Works great on keyless works, but not good for mainspring, right?
    • Etsyntha B-52. Says it works for winding mechanisms and mainspring. Does anyone have experience with this one?
    • Novostar mainspring grease. Says it also can be used for winding and setting mechanisms. Does anyone have experience with this one?


    Any others I should be considering?

    Also, I have a couple of automatics that I'd like to service, and the cost of Kluber P-125 is way more than I paid for the watches! I've read a couple of places that I could use standard grease as the breaking grease, with the possible loss of a little bit of maximum winding/reserve. Has anybody done that?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Member ExpiredWatchdog's Avatar
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    Re: Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?

    Most of the tech sheets specify HP-1300 as the thickest lube except for the barrel wall (and they typically don't mention that). D5 is HP-1300s grandfather; it works everywhere HP-1300 is specified.

    No idea about Etsyntha 3-5, I've never heard of it. The tech sheets are pretty specific about Moebius (although I've seen Molycote DX specified for the cannon pinion on a few).

    Kluber P125 is awfully expensive; I bought a two gram tub for over $100. However, two grams will last you the rest of your life and there's no expiration date on the container. That's not to say that a 50 yr old container is good, but it's really thick and I don't see it changing anytime soon.

    As far as a replacement, I've got a sH!+-ton of exotic lubricants that my dad collected in his 40 years in aerospace (a few boxes, at least) and there's nothing in the lot that even comes close to P125. You're not going to find a substitute. No idea how something else would do, but I can say that nothing at all results in a movement that winds up to about 25 hrs and then the spring cuts loose (somewhat violently). This is a chinese ETA 2824 clone that has almost no lubricant, including no braking grease.

    You get what you pay for. That's been my experience in buying watch materials and tools for several years. I'd avoid anything from India like the plague (particularly Anchor).

    Regarding lubes, various suppliers have better or worse deals but the tech sheets specify and the professionals use Moebius synthetics for a reason. The bright side of things is that as an amateur, you will wipe up far more oil from your oil pots while cleaning them than you will ever place in a watch.

    Modern mainsprings need no oil, except the braking grease and HP-1300 on the arbor bearing surfaces. Steel mainsprings benefit from a thin wipe of Moebius 8000 or HP-500.

    You can tell a modern mainspring in that it's got a thin white coating, Teflon powder sintered to the metal if I'm correct. Do nothing but clean any contamination from these; the act of wiping them with cleaning agent and wipes is destructive to the coating and you are better off removing the boogies and moving on (at least not wiping down the spring with any force, and certainly not in the ultrasonic.

    That's the best advice I can give you.
    Last edited by ExpiredWatchdog; 2 Weeks Ago at 10:18.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?

    I agree with that for modern movements. But for me, it really seems like overkill. I have a Raketa hand-wind that is running but needs a service. I have a Slava automatic that is stopped, and a Benrus automatic that needs a service and has something messed up in the keyless works. None of them are newer than mid-'90s, and I don't think any of them were originally specified to use synthetic oils.

    My question still stands. If I limit it to a light oil, a heavy oil, and a grease, what should that grease be?

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    Re: Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?

    Quote Originally Posted by biggieshellz View Post
    I agree with that for modern movements. But for me, it really seems like overkill. I have a Raketa hand-wind that is running but needs a service. I have a Slava automatic that is stopped, and a Benrus automatic that needs a service and has something messed up in the keyless works. None of them are newer than mid-'90s, and I don't think any of them were originally specified to use synthetic oils.

    My question still stands. If I limit it to a light oil, a heavy oil, and a grease, what should that grease be?
    I use modern synthetic oils on every watch I service - some that are 70+ years old. They are simply a better option than natural oils.

    If you want a general all around grease, Molycote DX works, as would something like Jismaa, or even Moebius 9504. If I were to pick one for use on setting parts, cannon pinions, etc. it would be the 9504.

    If you are servicing automatic watches, you will need a specific braking grease, as using a regular grease will not achieve the same results. Braking greases don't make things slip easier - they do the opposite. They control the slip to a higher level than metal to metal contact would be. I use Kluber P125, but there are others out there. There are fewer options for these than for normal greases though, so off the top of my head you could try Moebius 8212 or 8213.

    Cheers, Al

  6. #5
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    Re: Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?

    When I was faced with the same question some years ago, I picked Moebius 8217 for the braking grease. (I think it was the grease recommended in a timezone watch class.) For other options, have a look here: Oil & Lubricants by Moebius
    Last edited by LCheapo; 2 Weeks Ago at 05:53.

  7. #6
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    Re: Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?

    To answer your question directly; Moebius 9010 on balance wheel and seconds/forth wheel, HP-1300 everywhere else except the cannon pinion where 9501 is used. Moebius 9501 comes in a ten gram syringe and if you thought two grams of Kluber would last the rest of your life...

    Oh, and it comes with an experation date, guaranteed to be less than six years from today.

    I might have gotten something wrong as I'm going from memory so consult your tech sheet for more accurate info. Did you say "Rakata"?...

    Edit: if you really wanna cut corners, some of the pocket watch folks recommend vaseline for keyless lube. Better than nothing. Archer's suggestion for 9504 is sound & it comes in a two gram package for about $30. It does have the characteristic of a bright blue colorant, which makes it easy to see where it is and isn't. For better or worse.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by ExpiredWatchdog; 2 Weeks Ago at 02:49.
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    Re: Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?

    If I might add something. I have a cheap oil that I got off Wish, that I use for practice on JUNK movements. I think it's called "701" which is a clock oil...sorta. Anyways, when I started out before I moved up to anything expensive (and even asian clones can be expensive and no spare parts) I bought a handful of cheap movements like Vostok et all. They are cheap, and if you stuff the movement, you are not going to cry over the small amount you spent on it, plus, if you buy a lot of movements, chances are the other junk movements will have the part you need.

    Then you can use some cheap oil and practise before using the real stuff. I was glad I did. My first three 2614 Raketas I snapped the pinions on the gear train trying to get them all lined up. If I had followed some folks advise and got a 6497 (or clone) I would have cried over the amount I spent. When I did finally move my way to the 6497, it was a walk in the park.

    Plus, I've seen loads of folks who want to get into watchmaking but then drop $$$ and realize it's not for them. You have to learn to walk before you can run.

  9. #8
    nnt
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    Re: Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?

    I use Dow Corning 111 used for the seals. At every battery change the stem/crown is pulled, cleaned along with the tube area of the case and 111 reapplied. 111 is thicker than the usual seal grease, intended for O-ring and valves. Does not apply neatly as a thinner lube. Impervious to most other chemicals including alcohol and non toxic.

    IMO the lube for the mainspring must be a real non silicon based lubricant. At this point I have no long-term experience with mainspring lubes.
    Last edited by nnt; 1 Week Ago at 18:49.

  10. #9
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    Re: Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?

    Quote Originally Posted by nnt View Post
    I use Dow Corning 111 used for the seals.
    Excellent choice. I currently use an Esslinger seal grease container; a plastic shell with a sponge in both the bottom and lid, pretreated with silicone grease. They don't say what kind. But anything Dow Corning is as good as Moebius in my mind (having used their products for most of my life).
    Watchmaking. I'm learning how not to do it. Rapidly.
    Nasty Hobbitses. Sméagol hates tequila!
    They call it a recession when you are out of a job. It becomes a depression when I'm out of a job.

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    Re: Best grease for beginner for keyless works and mainspring?

    So the Etsyntha oil arrived today, and it looks like they sent me the wrong stuff -- 859 synthetic clock oil rather than 3-5 semi-synthetic. The viscosity is listed as 150 cSt at 20ºC, the same as Moebius 9010, so hopefully it will still work.

    I ended up ordering KT-22 for the keyless works. I'll use a couple of drops of the Etsyntha on the mainspring -- the datasheet lists springs as one of the things it can be used to lubricate.

    I have the Raketa 2609 HA movement in pieces waiting to be cleaned. I'm planning to use naphtha or brake cleaner, since I do not have an ultrasonic cleaner. Then I'll try putting it back together and getting it to run again. Wish me luck!

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